IT’S been a good year for Shortland Street. The TV2 soap celebrated its 15th anniversary in May and now two of its stars have been nominated in the Air New Zealand Screen Awards.
Amanda Billing, who plays unlucky-in-love Dr Sarah Potts, is nominated for best actress along with Robyn Malcolm for Outrageous Fortune and Rose McIver for Maddigan’s Quest.
Anna Jullienne, who plays lesbian nurse Maia Jeffries, is nominated for best supporting actress against Antonia Prebble and Siobhan Marshall of Outrageous Fortune.
Amanda was nominated for the episode in which Sarah goes on two dates in one day ? with Craig and future husband TK.
“The episode was unusual in it featured only that storyline,” Billing told Sunday News. “It was heaps of fun for me. I had lots of work to do but it was great.
“It’s really nice to be nominated. Working on a soap, there’s so much drama gets made at this place every day, it would be hard to pick and choose between us.
“I’m really pleased for the show in particular. It?s nice to be nominated but it’s great for Shortland Street to get some kudos.” Jullienne says she will never forget filming the episode for which she was nominated.
“It was when Maia finds out about Jay and Dylan ? when she found out her wife was cheating on her,” Anna told Sunday News.
“It was a huge storyline for me, really emotional. I remember going home after that day and feeling like I’d been at a funeral.
“That kind of emotion, you can’t actually convince yourself that it wasn’t real.
“You need to sit down with a glass of wine!”
Shortland Street has been nominated for best TV drama in the awards, which will be announced on August 1.
The show’s recognition shows how far it?s come since it was panned 15 years ago by critics who said it would never survive.
“I remember Michael Galvin talking about it at the 15th anniversary show ? how there was cultural cringe about hearing our accents on TV and seeing stories about New Zealanders on TV,” Billing says.
“I come across a lot of lively, articulate, well-motivated people who love watching heaps of TV.
It’s nice everybody from all walks of life like Shortland Street.”
Billing has enjoyed watching Sarah leave her “unlucky-in-love” past behind with her marriage to TK.
“It was really nice for Sarah to come through her emotional angst and actually acknowledge TK for the lovely person he is.
She’s been unlucky in love ? her personal life has been a shambles!”
Jullienne also has had some “massive” storylines in the past year ? Maia has had a marriage break-up and secretly got pregnant to Mark Weston, the husband of sister Tania.
“It’s definitely been emotionally draining. My storylines are hugely emotional, particularly this year,” Jullienne says.
“When you start off, you seem to have slightly lighter storylines and I have been looking at the new characters and thinking, ‘I remember when my storylines were light and jokey’.
“When Pua Magasiva’s character Vinnie was on, we used to joke around and have great gags.
“But that’s what happens when you get pregnant to your sister’s husband!” she laughs.
Jullienne doesn’t condone Maia’s behaviour in going behind Tania’s back to get pregnant by Mark.
?It’s a messy situation ? it would never happen in my life! She has done terrible things but she is desperate for this baby.
“Do I stick up for her? Yes and no. I totally recognise she’s done terrible things. But you have to be able to justify her motives and action, or she’s not a real character.”
While Jullienne’s had some great plots, the biggest highlight for her is being able to work every day as an actor.
“I work with great people. I’m happy just to be working and putting myself in different situations and emotional situations for my craft.”
It’s a similar situation for Billing, who doesn’t always agree with Sarah’s behaviour.
“She can be a difficult person to play. She drives me nuts! She gets grumpy with people and speaks her mind,” she says.
“Her getting married has been really good and having a more friendly and equilibrious relationship with Craig.
“I was really stoked for Sarah when she and Craig got together too but the circumstances weren’t great.”
But there are “undoubtedly” parts of Billing in Sarah ? like her hard-working and driven personality.
“Having a good heart underneath all the bits and pieces,” Amanda says. “I don’t have to stretch myself to play her so much.
“Sometimes her behaviour’s quite erratic and it tends to take more of a toll on me than I accept at the time. I look back and think, ‘That’s why I was knackered because Sarah was going through this’.
Jullienne says being nominated was “a lovely surprise”, and she?s in good company with Prebble and Marshall.
“I love Outrageous ? those two girls are lovely and talented. It’s just great to be nominated. I’ll see how it goes.”
Billing also wasn?t hedging her bets.
“It’s Robyn Malcolm, what am I going to say! I have no nails left!” she laughs.
“Robyn’s awesome. I remember watching Shortland Street when I was at university and looking at her and thinking how awesome she is.
“I’ve always had a lot of admiration for her as an actor. It’s really nice to be in her company and, of course, Rose is a really talented young lady. I really enjoyed that show (Maddigan’s Quest).”
Billing sees her nomination as an accolade for everyone at Shortland Street.
“It’s fine for us actors because we are the face of the show. We are the ones who put our glad rags on but we are there to represent the show ? for everyone who makes the show, the crew behind the camera for hours on end.
“Everyone who works here is a really, really good person, really generous not just the actors but the technical and crew side of things.”